Big, the Broadway musical adaptation of the 1988 Tom Hanks film, will close Oct. 13 at a loss of its entire $10.3 million investment.
The show will have played 23 previews and 193 regular performances.
The New York Times said the loss made Big "one of the biggest financial disasters in Broadway history."
The show, which had been expected to be the big hit of the 1995-96 season, found, in the wake of Rent, that it could get no respect from critics or award-givers -- though Playbill On-Line's America Online Bulletin Board for the show was always populated with fans who loved the show couldn't understand why this musical, about a boy who gets his wish to be transformed into a grownup, wasn't a success.
To see a variety of reactions to the closing from Playbill On-Line members, check Theatre News. Fans of the composing team of Richard Maltby Jr. and David Shire had hoped the show would be the Big Hit they were waiting for. Maltby & Shire have had success with revues Starting Here, Starting Now and Closer Than Ever, and with independent projects. Maltby directed Ain't Misbehavin' and translated lyrics to Miss Saigon. But they've had less success with Broadway, including Baby and now Big. In an interview with Playbill On-Line in August, Shire talked about his bewilderment at the show's failure to catch on with critics -- it was the other big musical besides Victor/Victoria to be snubbed by the 1996 Tony nominating committee as Best Musical -- but Shire was predicting that Big would run through spring 1997 before going on tour.
In the Times story, producer Jim Freydberg blamed declining ticket sales and rumors of the show's demise for the closing. Big had been advertising "last weeks" for more than a week, but Broadway expected the show to run at least through Jan. 1. Andrew Lloyd Webber had wanted Big's Sam S. Shubert Theatre, flagship of the Shubert chain, for his new musical, Whistle Down the Wind. But after a midsummer surge in ticket sales, the Big producers said they were going to stay at least through spring 1997. So Webber took Whistle to the Martin Beck Theatre, owned by the Jujamcyn chain.
Instead the desirable Shubert will be home to the revival of Kander & Ebb's Chicago, which will transfer there in February after its limited run at the Richard Rodgers Theatre ends.
If you'd like to catch Big before it closes, call Tele-Charge at (212) 239-6200. You can also order tickets through Playbill On-Line.